November 14, 2019
A Charter School Gets Canceled for Wanting to Teach Indigenous HistoryBreaking News
tags: Indigenous history
Staff writer for The New Republic
There’s an old saying that history is written by the victors. It’s not entirely accurate, as evidenced by both Lost Cause narratives and the paucity of historians on battlefields. But there is a kernel of truth in there regarding the distortion and dilution of history over time, before it reaches the eyes and ears of schoolchildren. History, more precisely, is taught by the victors.
On Tuesday, the North Carolina Charter Schools Advisory Board voted to reverse its recommendation for approval of a charter school set to open in Robeson County. Robeson County is home to the Lumbee Tribe, a state-recognized Native nation that is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River. The reason for the reversal, according to Board member Lindalyn Kakadelis, was that the proposed curriculum was too Indigenous. Specifically, Kakadelis said the curriculum dabbled in “red pedagogy,” a term made popular by Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought, a 2004 book written by Connecticut College professor Sandy Grande offering a Native-first exploration of the question of whether “the good life can be built upon the deaths of thousands.” Per the News & Observer:
“I did not find one thing in the book that talked about the greatness of America,” Kakadelis said. “Now let me make it perfectly clear: America has sins. There are things I wish we had never done, slavery included.
“Bad marks on our country. But we learned from them and we’re changed and we’re not what we used to be. I’ve got to say that everything I found was divisive instead of bringing unity.”
The decision was handed down in the middle of Native American Heritage Month, and the reasoning behind it reeked of a uniquely white fear of losing control of the national historical narrative. But it also pointed to the complicated role charter schools are playing in North Carolina and across the United States when it comes to underserved populations like the Lumbee.
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